The Gaberlunyie Man

James_V_of_Scotland2

James V of Scotland

Traditionally thought to be by the pen of the vagrant ‘King of the Commons’, King James V. of Scotland (1512-1542), The Gaberlunyie Man is said to celebrate his tendency for wandering his realm in disguise and causing mischief with the country girls. It has been recorded by the aforementioned Francis James Child (Child Ballad 279 – ‘The Jolly Beggar’ appendix), as well as Thomas Percy and many others. In the ballad, the story is told of a beggar coming to a lady’s door and begging lodging. During the night, he beguiles the daughter of the lady, and makes off with her. The lady then, years later, refuses and repudiates the beggar, and the beggar reveals her daughter happy and healthy.

Gaberlunyies (or Gaberlunzies) were medieval licensed beggars, and were also known as King’s Bedesmen or blue gouns on account of the blue gowns given them to wear by the monarch as alms.

Thomas Percy writes; ‘There is no authority for attributing the present song to James V., except ancient and universal tradition. The word gaberlunyie is compounded of gaber, a wallet, and lunyie, the loins: hence a travelling tinker or beggar carrying a wallet by his side, was called a “gaberlunyie man.’

This version is sung by Danny Spooner, from the album ‘Danny Spooner and Friends’

Oh the beggar, a beggar, came oer frae lee
Wi’ mony good-eens and good-days to mee,
Saying, Goodwife, for your charity,
Will ye lodge an honest ol’ man?

The night was cauld, and the carle was wat,
And down ayonder English sat;
My dochters shoulders he gan to clap,
And he cadgily ranted and sang.

And atween the twa they made a plot
They’d raise an hour before the cock,
And they’d doon the step, and slip the lock,
And across the brae they gane.

Lassie tae ma too roo re

In the morning time the servent gaed
intae the place where the daughter lay,
but the sheets were cauld, and they were away
She’s gan with the beggar man,

Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

Ah some did rin and some did ride
Tae find the place fa’ they did hide,
But they couldnae find fa they did bide
As in the brae they lay.

Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

Oh, she ma dear I loe ye well,
I’ll follow ye tae the gates o’ hell,
Oh sweet bonnie lassie, I loe ye tell,
But with me ye cannae gang

No wi’ me ye no ye cannae gang
for ye ain’t a got the cant o’ the beggars tongue,
no ye ain’t a got the cant o’ the beggars tongue,
so wi’ me ye canne gan

Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

Oh I’ll bend my back and I crook ma knee
And place the black patch ower ma e’e,
And a beggar’s lassie they’ll tak’ me tae be,
And alang wi ye I’ll gang,

Laddie tae ma too roo ree.

When mony years had cam and gane
The beggar man he cam back again,
Saying “Guid wife for ye’r charity
Will ye lodge an honest ol’ man?”

Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

O no, O no, I’ll not lodge again
For I ance had a dochter ain o ma ain,
But awa’ wi a beggin’ man she’s gane
And I dinna ken whence na whar.

Laddie tae ma too roo ree.

Oh, ‘Yonder she’s comin’ ower yon lea
Wi mony a tale for tae tell tae ye,
She’s a baby donlin’ at her knee
And another yen coming hame.

Lassie tae ma too roo ree.’

‘O yonder she’s comin’ tae your bower,
Wi’ mony a silk, aye, and mony a flower.’
And the guid wife rose and she blessed the hour
She’d follow’d the beggin’ man.

Laddie tae ma too roo ree

274

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